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New Years and Healthy Eating? Oatmeal In The Spotlight

In the December 2011 issue of Women’s Health Magazine, there is an excellent article on oatmeal. Besides having some great recipes – savory oats for breakfast? Yum! Lets just say that oats, maple syrup and bacon are my kind of thing….but I digress, back to my original train of thought and it is on the oats themselves. Often one will see claims that steel-cut (Irish Oats) are better than traditional rolled oats (Old-Fashioned) or worse the myth that Quick Cooking (1 Minute Oats) are nutritional garbage. But they are no different and the article hammers this home.

One of the best things you can do for your cholesterol levels is to eat oats – often! Kirk and I got addicted to eating various forms of oatmeal in 2011 (from one pot to baked, I made so many types!). It helped us knock our cholesterol levels in half and more so, kept us from getting as hungry. Well made oatmeal will have you desiring it, rather than eating that nutritionally less than stellar breakfast of champions, er backpackers, Pop-Tarts©. Oats are also great for your blood sugar (hence the reason you feel full longer) and are a great source of fiber (beta-glucan fiber, what binds the cholesterol).

The processing done to Old-Fashioned and 1 Minute oats isn’t anything bad – it simply breaks down the tough exterior of the oat making it easier to cook and eat. Ounce for ounce you get similar nutritional stats. The only time it isn’t is the pre-packaged instant packets that are full of sugar, salt and artificial flavorings/colorings. Considering you can make your own DIY packets and avoid all the salt/chemicals, you have no excuses! Most often I go for Old-Fashioned Oats as I enjoy the texture the most – and you can always do a quick grind to make them quicker cooking. And price-wise you just cannot beat them – go to Costco and you will be eating for next to nothing!

The key is that oats are bland, no matter what type you prefer. To taste great you need to be creative. They can be savory or sweet, but just like rice or couscous, you need to add in flavor. Cooking with milk (dairy or non-dairy) adds depth. Add in nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc for more substance. Use spices! There isn’t much better than a bowl of oats sweetened with maple syrup and topped with just picked Huckleberries in August 🙂

So consider tomorrow a new start to a healthier you – learn to love oats and consider having them for meals when you backpack 🙂 Need some ideas? Well, here ya go!

DIY Instant Oatmeal Packets

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Sarah’s Fattening Coconut Berry Oatmeal

Trail-Nola, a cold cereal for those days when you don’t want to cook!

And need some ideas to get you going at home?

Baked Oatmeal is great for hiking. Make it at night and in the morning take a big wedge with you to eat on the way to the trailhead. Avoid the pre-hike rut of greasy gut-bombs from fast food places! Or have a bowl of hearty oatmeal before you hit the road. Your stomach (and heart) will thank you!

~Sarah

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